Two Simple Ways to Stave Off Boredom in Your Relationship
Remember when you first met your partner? Getting swept off your feet in waves of excitement, passion, doting and puppy love adoration? At first, it was hard to think of anything else, reading and re-reading every.single.text.message, getting pre-date butterflies, and ah yes, that silly grin you just couldn’t wipe off your face.
But somehow…overtime you got ‘used to’ them.
Excitement and passion started to wane, and almost imperceptibly, those heady feelings were replaced with contentment and ease.
Their little quirks that once seemed fascinating and funny – started to sound more like “yep seen that one before”…
With the continued march of time, the presence of our partners can start to feel unremarkable, predictable, even… dare I say…boring…
So is the waning of passion and interest inevitable? Or can we keep honeymoon bliss alive?
Science suggests that people ‘adapt’ to good and bad life events. Thankfully, most of us bounce back to our prior levels of happiness after we go through a breakup, lose a job, or endure physical injury. On the flip side, boosts in happiness from winning the lottery, getting a pay rise or meeting that special someone, tend to be short-lived, as we “adapt” to our new life circumstances.
Even on a biological level, sliding back to our baseline seems to be almost inevitable. Much like taking drugs, our bodies naturally build up a tolerance for “feel good” chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, which are released when we meet someone attractive. This process makes it harder to experience the same ‘high’ that we do early in the relationship, as our bodies gradually acclimitise to the presence of our partners.
So.. What does this mean for us?
If sliding into the luke warm waters of a long-term relationship is inevitable, do we cut and run each (and every) time this happens, in pursuit of another breathless relationship? Or can we find a way to ward off the process of adapting to our relationships?
Luckily, Psychologists from the University of California have put some thought into this one for us…. And have come up with two simple ways to bring your relationship back from the brink of boredom (or stop it from ever getting there), and here is part one:
A little variety…
We humans, are creatures of habit – and our relationships are no exception. Over time we settle into visiting the same bunch of restaurants, seeing the same group of friends, asking the same type of questions and giving the same type of answers.
Not that there is anything wrong with routine. In fact, there is something deeply comforting about doing the things we love with our favourite people. But, when we do those things over - and over again – it certainly paves the path to predictability.
Perhaps it’s worth reflecting on how we spend time with our partners - what we talk about, who we spend time with, what our routine is before work, after work, in bed and on the weekends?
I think I speak for many of us when I say that our post-work routine is pretty predictable “Hi (kiss) How was work? What did you eat for lunch? What do you feel like for dinner? Anything on tele tonight?” and let’s face it… most of the time we are only half listening to the answers. Mainly because we have heard it all before..
Injecting a little variety into our routines can do wonders for our relationships. Research indicates that couples who engage in a broader range of activities together, tend to be more satisfied, more committed, stay together longer and have more passionate sex.
Variety doesn’t have to involve great imagination, cost or planning. It doesn’t have to be a camping trip up the coast or a hot air balloon ride (although these are a good ideas too). It can be as simple as making small shifts to our daily routines, like:
- Turning the TV off for a night (or turning off phones, ipads and laptops).
- Asking our partners about aspects of themselves or their lives that we tend to overlook. Questions about their childhood, significant turning points in their lives, who they admire and why, how they see their future etc., can help to open up fresh perspectives and shared understanding in the relationship. There is always more of someone to know – the question is, are we still looking?
- Trying a new restaurant, a new cuisine, cooking a new dish together, or eating your dinner in that little park around the corner that you never stop to sit in.
- Going for a walk together – taking a different route.
- Going for a drive with no set destination in mind.
- And any activity that increases adrenaline – like watching a scary movie (shock horror), going rock climbing or visiting a theme park – as these activities have been shown to boost sexual attraction.
By forcing ourselves to switch off cruise control and making small changes to our routines, we can explore and delight in the parts of our partners that have been neglected in our slow descent into daily living.
Have a go at practicing this, and when you're ready have a go at Part Two: Appreciating our partners.
With Warmth, K & A xx